Monday, September 16, 2013

Reading Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane

A few weeks ago, I picked up The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and read it one sitting. I have been a fan of Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer for several years but I had never actually read one of his books.

I was curious about this one since it was getting so much buzz. I was not disappointed. Well, actually I was but only because it ended and I hadn't gotten enough.

There is something fantastically beautiful and otherwordly about this book. It reminded me of a few gems I have loved like Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, which is the story of Meg and her little brother Charles Wallace, the pain of immortality in Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, and lastly the magical struggle between love, life and death crafted by Ray Bradbury in From the Dust Returned.

Mostly, it reminds me of the latter in a very good way but I was left with a craving for more, especially more from the Hempstock women and with questions about what happened to Lettie.

I hope we get to revisit this wonderful family. What was your impression of what happened to Lettie?


Neil Gaiman Sign
Neil Gaiman Sign (Photo credit: lizohanesian)
Cover of "From the Dust Returned: A Novel...
Cover of From the Dust Returned: A Novel
Cover of "A Wrinkle in Time"
Cover of A Wrinkle in Time

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Aromatic Water: Rose Recipes & Agua Florida

Last week, I saw a post for 20 Unusual Uses for Rose Water and it reminded me of the recipes in Like Water for Chocolate by Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel, and also of the Agua Florida that my aunts splashed around the house (and everything else) back in the day - which my mom detested.

Cover of "Like Water for Chocolate"

Recipe: Rose Petal Sauce for Hens

* Makes 6 servings

12 red or pink organic roses' petals
1 cup chopped walnuts 
3 cups chicken broth, or as needed (I use the No Sodium, organic type)
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I switched to Coconut Oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground anise seed
3 prickly pears (cactus fruit, Nopal), peeled and chopped (tasted like Watermelon)

Directions

- Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add garlic, and saute until fragrant, 2 or 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and anise, and cook for another minute to blend the flavors.
- In the container of a blender or food processor, combine the prickly pears, rose petals (reserving a few for garnish) and walnuts. Pour in just enough broth to cover. Cover, and process until smooth.
- Pour the rose petal mixture into the saucepan with the garlic. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring gently. If the sauce is too thick, add more broth as needed. Mix in the honey, then taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper or anise if desired. Serve poured over poultry, garnishing with a few rose petals.

Via AllRecipes

THE ONE AND ONLY: Agua de Florida - Murray y L...
 (Photo : youflavio)
For those of you not familiar with Agua Florida or Florida Water, I found this guide very interesting.

It's been around since 1808 and has been used for spiritual cleansing in addition to being used as fragrance just as long.

Do remember this in your house?

Monday, September 09, 2013

Me Before You – A Question for Jojo Moyes

I confess I had Me Before You in my eReader for a while before I finally was in the mental place to read it. I was urged on by a discussion with my coworkers. When I finally did read it, I read it in one fell swoop, over the course of 1-2 days during the weekend.

I remember a time when I read all the time. At night before I went to bed every day and sometimes throughout the day too. I have fond memories of breaking night in High School and reading books like the Witching Hour by Anne Rice in one night or sitting on a rooftop in Hunter College, or the Central Park Conservatory Garden and reading feminist or political nonfiction.

In light of that it's heartbreaking to think how it seems very hard now to dedicate time to reading at leisurely pace or even finishing a book. I read so many aggregated feeds a day, digest so much data from so many places that sometimes it feels like my head was spinning.

Anyhow, I did enjoy Me Before You, which will be made into a movie. I found it to be both unique and and resonated with me because I once was lost and forlorn very much in the same way. It was entertaining and offered a sense of comfort in both the traditional boy-girl save each other but also heartbreaking in a tragic sense. There was something very poetic about the liberation they both receive at the end of the story.


I was very curious the meaning behind the prominent feature of the biology book, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley, in the story. You see, this is a book I read in college.

Honestly, it was such a good book that I wish Matt Ridley would go back and write an updated version every couple of years. In Me Before You, the main character "Lou" or "Louisa" is encouraged to read it by her adult charge, who has become a quadriplegic.

Cover of "The Red Queen: Sex and the Evol...
Cover via Amazon
If I had the chance to ask Jojo Moyes, I would love to know why the Red Queen has such a noticeble placement in the story and hear the backstory. What did you make of it?

* Full disclore: I received an eGalley for review from the publisher.

Friday, August 23, 2013

#FridayReads: Claire of the Sea Light By Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat by David Shankbone
Edwidge Danticat by David Shankbone (Photo: Wikipedia)
She needs no introduction - put it on your must-read:


From the best-selling author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Krik? Krak!, a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small town where a little girl, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing.

Claire Limyè Lanmè--Claire of the Sea Light--is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in a seaside town in Haiti. Claire's mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother's grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper who lost a child of her own, so he can give her a better life. But on the night of Claire's seventh birthday, when he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. 

As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets and startling truths are unearthed among a host of men and women whose stories connect to Claire, her parents, and the town itself. Told with the piercing lyricism and economy of a fable, Claire of the Sea Light explores what it means to be a parent, child, neighbor, lover, and friend, while indelibly revealing the mysterious connections we share with the natural world and with one another, amid the magic and heartbreak of ordinary life. 

EDWIDGE DANTICAT is the author of numerous books, including Brother, I'm Dying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a National Book Award finalist; Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Trend Spotting & Innovation: Accelerating Accelerators

As lead strategist, editor and community manager for the Front End of Innovation, Foresight & Trends, The Market Research Event and Shopper Insights in Action, I follow innovation, paradigm shifts, and trends closely.

In the past couple of weeks I've noticed an acceleration of new funding projects pop up and some from a few surprising places:

Innovation
Innovation (Photo : Seth1492)
> The Sustainable Corporation: Patagonia Announces $20 Million Eco Startup Fund via BusinessWeek

> The Beverage Brand: Coca-Cola is launching 9 accelerators via GigaOm

> The Agency, VC, Event Hybrid: R/GA and Techstars Launch “Connected Devices” Accelerator via TechCrunch

But meanwhile, Jerzy Gangi, offers his observations on how Silicon Valley has killed major innovation by funding services like Instagram but not Hyperloops. His exploration on how ideas don't get funded is very interesting and the whole thing is definitely worth reading.

However, it makes me wonder if innovation has come into its own and we're just starting to see the beginning of a major movement in which innovation is a common goal across sectors bigger than one revenue stream, corporation, or place.

Friday, August 09, 2013

#FridayReads: The Infatuations By Javier Marias

The award-winning, internationally best-selling Spanish writer joins the Knopf list with an immersive, provocative novel propelled by a seemingly random murder that we come to understand--or do we?--through one woman's ever-unfurling imagination, meditations, and infatuations.

At the Madrid café where she stops for breakfast each day before work, María Dolz finds herself drawn to a couple who is also there every morning. Though she can hardly explain it, observing what she imagines to be their unblemished life lifts her out of the doldrums of her own existence. But what begins as mere observation turns into an increasingly complicated entanglement when the man is brutally murdered. 

María approaches the widow to offer her condolences, and at the couple's home she meets--and falls in love with--a man who sheds disturbing new light on the crime. As María recounts this story, we are given a murder mystery brilliantly reimagined as metaphysical enquiry, a novel that grapples with questions of love and death, chance and coincidence, and above all, with the slippery essence of the truth and how it is told.

JAVIER MARÍAS was born in Madrid in 1951. The recipient of numerous prizes, he has written thirteen novels, three story collections, and fifteen works of collected articles and essays. His books have been translated into forty languages, in fifty countries, and have sold more than 6 million copies throughout the world. 

 
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